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According to author Alan Noble, “Christians have an obligation to promote a human culture, one that reflects the goodness of creation, the uniqueness of human persons as image bearers, and Christ’s love.” How can Christians accomplish that calling when, Noble says, “the fundamental lie of modernity” is the belief that we are our own? He adds, “Until we see this lie for what it is, until we work to uproot it from our culture and replant a conception of human persons as belonging to God and not ourselves, most of our efforts at improving the world will be glorified Band-Aids.”

Before Noble fleshes out the radically freeing nature of belonging to God, he unmasks what he calls the “Responsibilities of Self-Belonging,” namely, “the responsibility to justify our existence, to create an identity, to discover meaning, to choose values, and to belong.” With deft, analytical strokes, Noble shows how our culture always fails to make good on its promises that when we accept the “Responsibilities of Self-Belonging” we will be healed and become whole.

In contrast, Noble reveals how life within the context of belonging to God doesn’t fail us, because ultimately God can’t and doesn’t fail us. Noble promotes a Christian anthropology by framing his book within the context of Question and Answer 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism: “Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death? A. That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.”

Noble explains that since the early 20th century, Westerners have asked the existential question, “Who am I?” He points out, “The better question is whose am I? Who is this being to whom I belong, how do I belong to them, and what are the implications of this belonging on my life?”

Compassion, grace, and a longing for the restoration of God’s world characterize Noble’s work. His is an unflinching analysis, refusing to accept quick-fix technological and human solutions, and based squarely on the work of God in human hearts and culture, not on people’s efforts to forge a better future. You Are Not Your Own is recommended for individual enrichment or small group study, though the book doesn’t include questions for reflection and discussion. (IVP)

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